The Paul McCartney Beatles ballad that “came right out of left field”

Although they were still primarily working as a rock and pop band, The Beatles slowly angled toward ballads in 1964. Paul McCartney was especially keen on getting the band to slow down, covering Broadway ballad ‘Till There Was You’ on 1963’s With The Beatles and encouraging John Lennon and George Harrison to cover The Miracles’ Motown ballad ‘You Really Got a Hold On Me’ on the same album.

By the time The Beatles were recording A Hard Day’s Night, McCartney had his first true-blue ballad that he could call his own: ‘And I Love Her’. Featuring a completely acoustic arrangement, ‘And I Love Her’ would be McCartney’s biggest solo spotlight on an album where he and John Lennon shared songwriting credits for every track. For McCartney, the track was an important line of demarcation for his writing.

“It was the first ballad I impressed myself with,” McCartney said in the book Many Years From Now. “It’s got nice chords in it, ‘Bright are the stars that shine, dark is the sky…’ I like the imagery of the stars and the sky. It was a love song, really. The ‘And’ in the title was an important thing. ‘And I Love Her’, it came right out of left field; you were right up to speed the minute you heard it.”

“The title comes in the second verse, and it doesn’t repeat,” he added. “You would often go to town on the title, but this was almost an aside, ‘Oh… and I love you.’ It still holds up, and George played really good guitar on it. It worked very well.”

“Precisely because Jane [Asher] was my girlfriend, I wanted to tell her there that I loved her, so that’s what initially inspired this song; that’s what it was,” McCartney wrote in The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present. “Listening to it so many years later, I do think it’s a nice melody. It starts with F-sharp minor, not with the root chord of E major, and you gradually work your way back. When I’d finished it, I felt almost immediately proud of it. I thought, ‘This is a good ’un’.”

There remains some debate as to how much John Lennon contributed to ‘And I Love Her’. At this time, he and McCartney were still largely working together as a team, polishing each other’s work and adding elements to each other’s songs. Lennon recalled that the track’s bridge was the part that he helped with.

“‘And I Love Her’ is Paul again. I consider it his first ‘Yesterday’,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “You know, the big ballad in A Hard Day’s Night. The middle eight, I helped with that.” However, McCartney contended that the bridge was entirely his own creation.

“I’m not sure if John worked on that at all… The middle eight is mine,” McCartney claimed in Many Years From Now. “I would say that John probably helped with the middle eight, but he can’t say, ‘It’s mine’. I wrote this on my own. I can actually see Margaret Asher’s upstairs drawing room. I remember playing it there, not writing it necessarily.”

Check out ‘And I Love Her’ down below.

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